The Lifestyle Downsizer, Mandy

I’m not sure I ever made a conscious “career choice” so to speak but, in 1989, after three years of studying English and Related Arts, (I still don’t know what that means or what I was meant to do with it), and £900 in debt, I found myself in London equipped with a letter from Lloyds asking when I would be paying the £900 plus my Degree. The recruitment agencies explained that generally, English students were good at Marketing so, that’s what I did & the £900 was duly paid.

One marketing job lead to another until it got to the stage that I ran out of job titles. I’ve been a “Marketing Exe”, “Marketing Manager”, “Account Manager”, “Head of Marketing”, “Head of Comms”,” Marketing Director”, “Director of Marketing, PR and Pricing”,” Director of Marketing, PR, Pricing and Product”, “VP of Marketing”,” Account Director”, “Head of Customer Accounts” and so on and so forth….then, shock, horror, just when I thought my fallopian tubes had retired, I fell pregnant. I found out in March 2005, by then I was three months pregnant (I thought I had polycystic ovaries — honest!) & as she was due in October, I thought to myself, “I’ll think about work in September”, but Mattie decided October was too long, so she came in August.

While recuperating in St George’s, Tooting I worked it all out — “I’ll work 2 days from home and have a Manny for 3 days” (I was hoping for a Tom Cruise lookalike). Computer said “NO”, you must be here 4 days a week and that was basically that.

Luckily, my brother had a successful Fire & Security company (I know you’re asleep now) that needed a Marketing “somebody or other” 2 days a week, which went to three which went to 5 but school hours only. Perfect, you would think — but if I thought having all of those job titles was stressful — boy oh boy! There are pros and cons to working school hours — the pros speak for themselves, the other side is harder to explain. There is a genuine feeling that although your contract says part-time and your salary is paid pro rata, you never really are part-time; especially if you take home a decent salary, which I did. It takes multi-tasking to a whole new level and if like me, multi-tasking is not your gig, it can feel like a running machine, constantly set to “climb” with no “off” button — so you make the most of, and just keep climbing, trying to reach the summit.

Lo and behold, I did reach the summit. After 10 years the business was sold to an international company, for whom I worked for too , which were the easiest two years of my working life. I imagine I didn’t find it stressful because I knew, at some stage, it would come to an end and it did, right bang in the midde of my 50th year so, I took the money and the plunge, and moved all of us out of the city and into the country.

I’m now a Trustee for a newly registered charity “Hands of Hope”, which tackles Loneliness and Childhood Obesity here in East Sussex. I am using my Marketing skills daily, and a whole lot of other skills I didn’t know I had. I am still working with my brother, (I’m a glutton for punishment) who is Chair of our charity, and he would probably add that “I didn’t know I had them because I don’t!” Fun and games as always, with the normal level of stress I have come to expect from being around a highly driven brother however, I just don’t feel the pressure any longer and it’s genuinely pleasing to give something back and get absolutely nothing in return, except the odd thank you.

I will retrain at some stage but, as yet, I’m not quite sure where my real interests lie; it could be Digital Marketing, it could be Nutrition, it could be Child Councilling, it could be Candle Courses, it could be Social Media, it could be none of the above — I just don’t know yet however, I have learnt that all the things I thought mattered such as money, status, clothes, highlights, threading, having friends in every port — actually don’t. The biggest surprise is the anticipation of not knowing what is coming next. I can’t genuinely claim to be happier and more fulfilled but I believe that’s because I’ve always been happy and fulfilled. However, I do love this new way of living — this pace that provides space to actually live a life and not run a life however the challenge now is to find an actual “paying” purpose that doesn’t spoil my new existence, although I am in desperate need of some threading and decent highlights!!!